On my way back from a Canadian fishing trip, I stopped in Iowa to call my cousin-in-law, Becky McNew, and asked her where I could find a good camera.

The reason I need to update my camera gear is because I am going to become a fully engaged part-time river fishing guide and photographer.

Taking others fishing brings back memories of those times so many years ago as a kid on the Big Piney, and again in the 70s and 80s in north Arkansas.

Larry Dablemont

I know the float-fishing isn’t what it was, but when you are as good at it as I am, I consider anyone who floats a river with me to be one lucky fisherman! That sounds very conceited but everyone is good at something, and that is what I am good at.  If I try to do much of anything else, it is a disaster. I can’t do anything mechanical.

The only thing I know to do with a spark plug is use it for a duck-decoy weight. I tried to change my trailer bearings once and had to buy a whole new axle. My wife won’t even tell me if there is something broken around the house because she knows if I try to fix it, it will be broker than it was.

But you should be with me floating down the river because I can definitely paddle a boat. If there were a boat-paddling hall of fame, I would be in it. And I can tell you right where a big smallmouth lurks just from all the years of catching lunkers on my own.

But I am about to quit fishing and begin seeing to it that others catch lunkers.

These photos are just a sampling of the thousands I have taken over the years.  Now I have a better camera than I have ever owned and can’t wait to use it.

I am also going to quit killing monstrous bucks and great big gobblers and help others do it. From now on when I sit in a deer stand, I will be sitting there with a camera, and when I sneak through the woods in the snow next winter, the only barrel I will have will be a short telephoto camera lens.

When mallards drop into decoys, I will shoot the whole bunch with my camera, and when I see a classy little English setter frozen before a covey rise, not one quail will escape my wide-angle lens.

For that you need a great camera, and I had one for many years, but it might be outdated now. Besides that, I have spent great sums on batteries to run it, and now the door on the battery compartment won’t latch.

Becky took me to a couple of places in the huge mess of a city called Des Moines. I think that is a Spanish name meaning something in Spanish. But there are some stores there big enough to play football in, and one of them had a Nikon camera with two lenses that never needs a battery, normally more than 800 dollars, on sale for one more day for 500 dollars. They only had one left, and now it is mine.

With my sudden increase in happiness, I volunteered to take Becky to a real fancy place for dinner and she opted for a restaurant named for some kind of colored lobster. A lobster, of course a giant crawdad, apparently found in various Iowa lakes, a northern subspecies not found in the lower Midwest.

Ozark mountain boomer…. I took this photo in 1971!

It is normal for creatures in Iowa to be extra large. Take an Iowa raccoon, for instance. They pig out in those cornfields and before they are half grown they are big enough to cause grill damage if you hit one on a back road somewhere.

Iowa is really proud of those giant colored crawdads, price-wise. To eat one of them, you need to have a good-sized bank account, and my camera purchase had nearly eliminated mine. Becky said if I would order a black-end catfish, it was fairly economical!

So I ordered it. Now I have caught and eaten white catfish and blue catfish, yellow perch, green sunfish, black bass, brown bass and even a red snapper once when they had some on sale at Aldi grocery store.

But I never even heard of a black-end catfish! When I got it, there were some little biscuits and mashed potatoes to go with it and NO GRAVY! I asked the lady who brought it to us if I could get some gravy or if they were just out of it that afternoon, and Becky acted like I had asked for a mid-winter watermelon!

“He’s from the Ozarks,” she said apologetically.

Apparently folks in Iowa don’t eat much gravy! And that black-end catfish I had was not at all black. It was sort of brown, and would have been SO much better with gravy! Of course, I do not know what he looked like before he was caught.  Maybe one end was black, but I would like to know what color the rest of him was.

I am pretty proud of my photography, because I am fairly good at it as you can see on the computer. But I am better at paddling a boat, and if you want to be paddled down the river and photographed catching big fish, you ought to call me.

Or I might could take you turkey hunting or deer hunting this fall, or quail hunting or duck hunting or whatever.

I might even take a few folks mushroom hunting next spring, but Ill insist on blindfolding you until we get there.

(Larry Dablemont lives in southwest Missouri. He can be reached by email at lightninridge@windstream.net, or by phone at 417-777-5227.)

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